Google Reviews for Local Businesses
Use the Power of Reviews to Help You Grow Your Local Business.
Lack of budget, or fear of spending without return, is often the reason for not maximising the potential of your business through marketing.
Of course, time and knowledge are also factors but there are ways to market your business that cost nothing, take no more time than you’d normally put into providing excellent customer service and there’s no learning curve.
So let’s start growing your business now.
If you want to grow your business but don’t have a big budget for marketing, there’s one thing you can do that will put your business in the Google map pack more consistently.
Grow Your Reviews.
We all know that reviews are important to local businesses. But do you know how important they really are? Reviews from customers can help a business stay afloat in the world of social media and online review sites. They serve as an unbiased look into the quality of service that a company provides, giving potential customers insight on whether or not they want to give their money to this particular vendor.
Google Reviews for Local Businesses.
Google reviews help you to rank in the map pack in two ways. It may be clear to you that businesses with more reviews tend to show up more but there is a second benefit which is a little known secret that you may not be aware of. I’ll tell you about it shortly.
The approach to reviews for a local business needs to be different for typical online shopping. If you shop online, you enter an automated funnel that is programmed to send review requests. They don’t need personal interaction with you. It’s a numbers game and they are not looking for consistent 5-star reviews. They make thousands of sales so poor reviews are diluted. That won’t work for a smaller local business. If you only have 10 reviews, the poor ones will show and have an effect on your average review score.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some tips for getting more Google reviews for your business, so that it is easier to rank higher on Google’s search engine results page. Appearing in the map pack puts you on the front page – not in weeks or months – but within a few hours.
Did Someone Say ‘Unbiased’ Reviews?
Now if you already picked up on the sentence that says unbiased, and have doubts about the authenticity of reviews, yes, I admit that there is a problem with reviews being bought and sold. You may even suffer from nasty people or disgruntled ex-employees leaving a 1-star review which is extremely frustrating and Google doesn’t always help. It can be impossible to get false reviews removed.
On the other end of the scale, high reviews can be bought. Every day, I receive messages on Facebook Messenger offering 5-star reviews for a price.
In general, for normal local businesses, the review system works for Google Business Profile. Reviews are extremely powerful and you shouldn’t let the small number of businesses that abuse the system deter you. The fact is that if you get more reviews, your listing will appear higher in local listings. For the Google Business Profile, ideally, you want to be in the top two. The top three show on desktop but often only two will show on mobile.
The review system is not perfect but in the UK for local businesses, it’s not bad and Google works hard at getting it right. Read Google’s own article about how local reviews work.
So How Do You Get More Reviews?
It’s a common mistake to think that you can just add your Google Business Profile URL on all of your marketing materials and hope customers will review it on their own. Customers who make the effort to look for your company and leave a review without prodding are like unicorns. You may not like what I say next because nobody likes asking for reviews. There is always a risk that your customer will leave negative comments. Strangely, even customers who are happy can say some odd things or think that a three-star review is good.
To find out more about how to deal with negative reviews including requesting removal of fake reviews read our article – A Practical Guide to Handling Negative Google Reviews for Local Business Owners.
The Number One Rule for Getting More Reviews.
The number one rule for getting more reviews is that you have to ask for them. If you just asked every customer, you would soon have a lot more reviews. However, there are nuances to asking for reviews that make it easy for yourself and for your customer to not just leave a review but leave a better review that can help your rankings.
The tendency for most companies is to get the job done, get paid and get out. If the customer is not complaining, then ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. They may have a minor grievance that isn’t worth phoning you but if you contact them, they may be reminded. Maybe there’s even a little bodge in the job and you have an underlying fear that they will notice.
If this is you, it may be time for an overhaul of your customer experience so that you can be confidently proactive in using your customers to bring in more customers. Without a doubt, your best source of leads is your existing customer base.
Lay The Right Foundations.
The trick to getting more reviews lies in laying the foundation in the right way so that you are comfortable asking for reviews and your customers know how they can help you.
If you need an attitude shift, you can start with deciding that you will be more open to communicating with your customers about the work you’ve done. Be prepared to hear the good and the bad. The bad will help you to improve your service. It hurts to hear that a customer is not happy especially when you think you’ve done a good job, but it’s better that they tell you than other people.
The first tip is obvious. Do a great job for your customers. This doesn’t mean that you complete the job to their satisfaction and expect a glowing review. You would think that would be enough but if you look through reviews for companies in your industry, you will see that reviewers often mention the journey from initial contact.
A job well done is the minimum that a customer should expect. They leave glowing reviews when expectations are exceeded. Think more about how you are making your customers feel, especially if your service or product has a low impact on their lives meaning they will forget about you immediately. By this, I mean that if you supply a big item such as a kitchen, or windows and doors, your customer will be glowing for a few weeks every time they look at their new purchase. You have made them feel like that – you’ve made them happy.
If your service is to fix a broken window, clean the gutters, clean windows, provide a skip or anything like that where interaction is lower, you not only need to do a good job, you need to impress them in other ways. This could be as simple as a cheery greeting, answering their enquiry quickly or letting them know when you are on the way.
Prime Your Customer.
Ask your customer to leave a review at the point when they are most likely to say yes. That is when they’ve agreed to buy from you. Naturally, they are happy with you at that point because they wouldn’t be buying from you if they were not. It’s a low commitment for the future and nobody says no.
If part of your customer journey is a sales consultation where you sign an order for products to be delivered in the future, prime your customer by asking them if they will be happy to leave a genuine review when the job is finished and they’re happy.
Your customer has already agreed to go ahead and you are preparing the paperwork. Whenever, it feels comfortable you can say something as simple as, ‘When your kitchen is installed and you are completely happy, would you mind leaving us a genuine review’?
Some of the reps for national companies use an additional discount to encourage reviews. It’s one of the last discounts that can be used as a final nudge when, in theory, they have given the lowest price but still haven’t got the deal.
‘There’s one last thing I can do for you if it will help to get to your budget. If you wouldn’t mind leaving a genuine review when your windows are installed and you’re happy with everything, I can give you a further £50 off’.
If that feels a bit ‘icky’, then just ask them as part of the consolidation.
Whichever way you choose, ensure two things:
- Call it a ‘genuine review’ so that there is no feeling of pressure to leave a good review and shows that you are confident in them making the right choice.
- Include ‘when you are happy’. This will give the customer some confidence that you are expecting them to be happy and they are less likely to cancel due to buyers remorse.
The point of mentioning this at the point of sale is that they will remember that they said they would leave a review. Most people are as good as their word, so if you’ve made it easy for them by adding your review link as part of your email signature and have it conveniently placed wherever they can see it, they are more likely to review your service unprompted.
When you ask for a review, they will remember that they agreed.
When Should You Ask For a Review?
Ideally, there should be a second priming stage. If you phone your customer after installation to ensure they are satisfied, once the conversation is finished, you can ask them if they are happy for you to send the review link now. Send it straight away so that it stays in mind.
If you are lucky enough to have installers that are motivated, they could undertake this second priming stage. If you install your own products, you could ask them yourself. Maybe you have a system for signing a satisfaction note. Whichever way that you ensure your customer is satisfied, when you know that they are, you or the installers can ask if it’s ok to send the review link.
Make it Easy for Customers to Write Reviews.
You will have a better response if you send the email request for a review as soon as you have the second agreement. If you know they are tech-savvy, you can even text the link while you are with the customer.
Send the request as a stand-alone email. Don’t let it be lost amongst guarantee information and instructions. Keep it simple as the example below.
Dear Sue and Graham,
Thank you for choosing ABC Services for your new Garage Door.
We are delighted that you are happy and appreciate your feedback.
As discussed small businesses benefit hugely from a Google review mentioning the name of the product purchased.
From there, it’s up to you whether you want to give an additional link.
Don’t make your customers work to leave you a review. If you send them an email with a review request, attach the link to Google Reviews or any other review service that you use. Don’t make them search.
Why Name the Product in the Review?
I promised you a little know fact about reviews and this is it. A keyword in the review can put you in the map pack. Most people do not understand the power of the Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) and think they have no control over the ranking but that is not true. The foundation of good local SEO services is to put you in the map pack for as many keywords as possible and there are many ways that you can do this.
If you know which keywords you need some help with, you can ask your customer to be specific. You could even ask them to mention the town.
In this image, you can see that 1st Choice Garage Doors (not our client) shows third in the map pack. Underneath where it says ‘closed’ in red, there is a small blue head symbol. This indicates that Google has chosen this company to appear in the map pack because the keyword has been mentioned in the review. It has therefore decided it is a good answer to the query.
When Not to Ask for a Review.
Only ask for a review directly when they are satisfied. If you have not finished the job don’t mention reviews until after their product has been installed properly.
Personally, I wouldn’t ask for the review until I have spoken to them and they have said they are happy. If you ask at a time when they are waiting for a response from you about a problem, you are likely to inflame the situation and invite a poor review.
If you need some help with improving your reviews, get in touch. We have a system for asking for reviews that will preview their response before moving to the next stage. If they write a good review, they are directed to Google and if they don’t they are encouraged to speak to you first.
A keyword in the review can put you in the map pack. Most people do not understand the power of the Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) and think they have no control over the ranking but that is not true. The foundation of good local SEO services is to put you in the map pack for as many keywords as possible.
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